VANDAL GAMEDAY: Idaho at Virginia

IT'S GAMEDAY FOR THE VANDALS and Idaho finds themselves on the road and looking for a win. For the first time ever, that road has taken Idaho (1-3, 0-1 WAC) into Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC) of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both teams are coming off frustrating home losses last weekend, and both will be looking for redemption in a game that will air live on ESPN3 (12:30pm PST kickoff).

The University of Idaho Vandals will head to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers, marking the first ever meeting between the two teams, and the first game against an ACC opponent. The Vandals are coming off a disappointing conference opening loss to Fresno State at home, where they were blown out of the Kibbie Dome 48-24 and fell to 1-3 on the season. The Cavaliers are also looking for a win after dropping a close game at home last weekend, 30-24, to Southern Mississippi. Though both teams are struggling, it's safe to say Idaho needs to fix a whole lot more.

The Vandals lack consistency. Offense, defense and even special teams have shown the ability to make plays, but have lacked the discipline to put a full game together. Missed assignments, blown coverage and careless penalties have plagued the Vandals. Those aren't exactly the key ingredients to success. If these things continue, Vandals fans will continue to endure the 2011 season instead of enjoy it. The Vandals need to fix things right now. This road test could be what Idaho needs. No distractions… just the game. If the Vandals can win on the road, it could be a huge confidence booster going into the rest of the season.

It could be the turning point for the 2011 squad.

Brian Reader and the entire offense need to step up to the challenge and make sure every possession counts, even if it's a scoreless drive that goes 6 plays. No more three and outs. The things that worked for Idaho last week were the legs of Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey, the sprint option, hitting tightend Mike LaGrone in stride and anytime Justin Veltung or Michael Scott touches the ball. In short yardage situations, the Vandals have been stopped. Finding ways to get a yard outside of the tackles is imperative. If Reader is given adequate protection, and the running game continues to succeed, the Vandals may put out the offensive performance they need to win.

Vandal Offensive Line – LT Matt Cleveland (6-4, 308, Sr.) LG Sam Tupua (6-2, 330 Sr.) Center Mike Marboe (6-2, 303 RFr.) RG Bilal Liggins (6-2, 288 Jr.) and RT Tyrone Novikoff (6-7, 304, Sr.) note – A.J. Jones (6-1, 282, Jr.) will see time at guard.

On defense the Vandals need to do two things; pressure the quaterback and don't get burned deep. The Vandal defensive front has had no luck reaching the quaterback, while the defensive backs have been victimized by big play receivers. Defensive linemen Charles Smith, Karel Kearney, Michael Cosgrove, Benson Mayowa, Andre Fergusen and Quayshawne Buckley all need to have a big game. They need to be able to apply pressure, but more importantly, get a sack or three on the day. Safeties Quin Ashley and Gary Walker need to do a better job helping the cornerbacks in coverage. There doesn't seem to be enough communication between them, and Aaron Grymes and Matt Harvey have been beat on several big plays. If they can't figure something out soon, the Vandal defense will continue to let the one big play be their Achilles heel.

Vandal Defensive Front – DE Charles Smith 6-6, 272 Sr.) Nose Tackle Karel Kearney (6-2, 274 RFr.) DT Michael Cosgrove 6-4, 300 Sr.) and DE Benson Mayowa 6-3, 250 Jr.) or Andre Ferguson (6-4, 256 Sr.)

Virginia has had its own set of struggles. Last week their starting quaterback was replaced during the game. Sophomore Michael Rocco threw three interceptions and was replaced by freshman David Watford. The Vandals may see both, but Watford may see the start because of his play last week. However, Viginia has been very effective in the red zone. So far this season they have been 16 for 16 in scoring when reaching the red zone. Redshirt freshman Kevin Parks has been a bright spot for the Cavaliers. The 5-8, 195 pound tailback is tearing up the season, tallying 282 yards and six touchdowns. Junior tailback Perry Jones (5-8, 185) is also an effective dual threat, running the ball well, but catching out of the backfield even better. Both have the luxury of two very big senior fullbacks in Max Milien (6-0, 220) and Terence Fells-Danzer (6-1, 240). Milien will carry the rock. Favorite targets for the quarterbacks are WR's Kris Burd (6-1, 200 Sr.), matt snyder (6-5, 215 Sr.) and Tim Smith (6-0, 185 So.). Obviously Burd has size and speed. He will be the one the Vandals need to shut down.

Virginia Offensive Line – LT Oday Aboushi (6-6, 310 Jr.), LG Austin Pasztor (6-7, 305 Sr.), Center Anthony Mihota (6-4, 285 Sr.), RG Luke Bowanko (6-6, 295 So.), RT Morgan Moses (6-6, 335 So.)

On defense, the Cavaliers lead the ACC in tackles for loss. Will Hill is a tackling machine in the trenches. They have plenty of depth and experience on defense. The linebacking core is big, strong and fast, featuring Aaron Taliaferro (6-2,230 Sr.) or Ausar Walcott (6-4, 240 Jr.) at strongside backer and Steve Greer (6-2, 225 Jr.) at middle backer and Laroy Reynolds (6-2, 230 Jr.) at weakside backer. With three seniors in the defensive backfield, the Cavaliers will have plenty of experience on the Vandal passing attack.

Virginia Defensive Line – DE Jake Snyder (6-4, 275 So.), DT Matt Conrath (6-7, 280 Sr.) DT Nick Jenkins (6-3, 275 Sr.) or DT Will Hill (6-4, 280 Jr.), DE Cam Johnson (6-4, 270 Sr.)

Last week's game showed some good and showed some bad. The Vandals can't seem to put an entire game together, and it's costing them. No one is expecting Idaho to win this game, but it's hardly a team Virginia is looking past. They have issues of their own they are trying to fix. So with that, Idaho will need to continue to work the bugs out of their play. Are they capable of beating this team? Only if they execute with precision, and stop the multitude of mental mistakes that rear their heads at the most inopportune times of the game. The costly penalties, stagnant drives and allowance of big plays are what need to stop. If they shore those things up, Saturday could be the victory the Vandals so desperately need to change this season around.


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